Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Ready for Manufacturers

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has released its first major update to the Windows 8 operating system, Windows 8.1 (or 'Windows Blue'), to manufacturers. That means the update is on track for its October 18, 2013 release.

Microsoft's Windows SuperSite editor Paul Thurrott recently took to Twitter to announce that Windows 8.1 had been released to manufacturers (RTM). That means the update has reached Microsoft's quality standards and is ready to be installed on new PC systems.

Microsoft had earlier stated that it would reach this milestone by the end of August, meaning the company is slightly ahead of schedule. (Source:

Start Button Makes Triumphant Return

Windows 8.1 introduces a number of significant updates to Windows 8, which originally shipped last fall. First and foremost, Microsoft has revived the Windows Start button, which should make it easier for Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 fans to navigate the new operating system.

Microsoft is also giving users the option to boot directly to the desktop, thereby avoiding the new user interface (formerly known as 'Metro'). Users can also unpin Metro apps, access built-in guides, and navigate a revamped Windows Store.

In essence, it's an attempt by the Redmond, Washington-based firm to make Windows 8 accessible for both touchscreen and non-touchscreen users.

So, how will any of this change the Windows 8 user experience?

It's hard to know, since Microsoft is being very guarded about who can test the update's biggest features. CNET's Mary Jo Foley reports that only manufacturers are getting access to these features before October 18. (Source:

RTM News Overshadowed by Ballmer Departure

Windows 8.1 could help Microsoft repair its relationship with home and business users alienated by the radical changes introduced with the original version of Windows 8.

However, news that the update is ready for manufacturers has been overshadowed by chief executive officer Steve Ballmer's announcement that he will leave the firm in the next twelve months.

Those of you who already own Windows 8 will be able to download the update for free on October 18.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet